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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2018 Dec;34(12):866-871. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001036.

Variation in Pediatric Care Between Academic and Nonacademic US Emergency Departments, 1995-2010.

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From the Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.



The aim of this study was to describe the resource utilization for children with common pediatric conditions treated in academic and nonacademic emergency departments (EDs).


We performed a retrospective, cross-sectional descriptive study using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Data from 1995 to 2010 including children less than 18 years old with a diagnosis of asthma, bronchiolitis, croup, gastroenteritis, fever, febrile seizure, or afebrile seizure. Academic EDs (A-ED) were those with greater than 25% of patients seen by a trainee. For each condition, we reported the proportion of testing, medications, and disposition between A-ED and nonacademic EDs (NA-ED).


From 1995 to 2010, approximately 450,000,000 estimated pediatric visits are represented by the survey based on 122,811 actual visits. For most common conditions, testing and disposition were comparable; however, some variation was noted. Among patients with bronchiolitis, a higher proportion of patients was admitted and had radiographs in NA-EDs (18% vs 10% and 56% vs 45%, respectively). For children with croup, radiographs were performed more often at NA-EDs (27% vs 6%). Among those with febrile seizures, more lumbar punctures were performed in NA-EDs (14% vs 0%). In children with afebrile seizures, more head computed tomography scans were obtained at NA-EDs (34% vs 21%).


Among pediatric patients with croup, bronchiolitis, and febrile and afebrile seizure, higher resource utilization and admissions were observed in NA-EDs. These preliminary findings from a national survey require a more detailed investigation into the variation in care between A-ED and NA-ED settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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